Four things and one wild guess

1. If the preseason polls released on Tuesday are any indication, girls water polo season in the Inland Valley likely will still be going near the end of February.

Despite having moved up a division, Bonita claimed the No. 1 ranking in the CIF-SS Division 4 poll a season after it secured the No. 1 playoff seed in Division 5. The Bearcats have some unfinished business after falling one goal short of the division championship last season.

Four of the 10 teams in the Division 3 preseason poll are locals, headlined by a third-ranked Los Osos program that has reached the CIF finals four years in a row. The Grizzlies will have plenty of local competition, including Baseline League foe Upland, which is ranked No. 7. Upland and Los Osos were two of the final four teams left in the Division 4 playoffs last season but lost to eventual champ Harvard Westlake.

The Baseline League moved up a division to join the Sierra League, which also landed two teams in the Division 3 preseason rankings. St. Lucy’s, the No. 2 playoff seed and a semifinalist last season, is ranked sixth and Ayala eighth.

Division 7 has three teams from the Mt. Baldy League in the top six. After all three fell in the first round of the playoffs last season, Chino nabbed the No. 3 ranking, Don Lugo No. 5 and Colony No. 6.

2. After local girls soccer teams brought home two CIF championships last season, it probably shouldn’t come as a surprise that the preseason polls are dotted with local teams. Claremont and Los Osos, the two defending CIF-SS champions, are ranked No. 2 in their respective divisions. After winning the Division 2 title last season, Los Osos was bumped up to Division 1, where is is ranked only behind defending D1 champion Aliso Niguel. Claremont, which was elevated from D3 to D2, is ranked behind the team Los Osos defeated in the D2 title game, Fullerton Sunny Hills.

Diamond Bar and Bonita are ranked third and fourth, respectively, in Division 3, which appears more wide open with the absence of a Sierra League that occupied three of the four semifinal spots last season. San Dimas is ranked second in Division 6 and Ontario Christian fifth in Division 5.

3. Two local teams will vie for a championship at the CIF-SS girls volleyball finals on Saturday.

After never advancing past the quarterfinals, Los Osos has taken full advantage of its move from Division 1A to Division 2AA with an impressive run to the final. The Baseline League champions took down No. 2 seed South Torrance in four games on Tuesday to reach Saturday’s final against Riverside King, the second-place team from the Big VIII League.

The Division 5AA final will be a matchup of the top two seeds when No. 1 Sierra Madre Alverno takes on No. 2 Pomona Catholic. Alverno has yet to lose a game in the playoffs and Pomona Catholic has lost just one.

4. Seven boys and five girls cross country teams from the Inland Valley will see if they have what it takes to compete for a state championship at Saturday’s CIF-SS Finals at Mt. SAC.

On the girls side, Division 2 is loaded with three strong contenders in Colony, Ayala and Claremont. Bonita is the No. 1 team in the state and hopes to take one more step to prove it on Saturday in Division 3. Los Osos freshman Sarah Holloway is competing as an individual in Division 1.

The Rancho Cucamonga boys are the lone team competing in Division 1 and Ayala is in Division 2. The Bonita and Jurupa Hills boys are alive in Division 3 and Ontario Christian, Webb and Western Christian in Division 5.

My wild guess this week is that UCLA will defeat USC in a high-scoring affair on Saturday that will mark the Bruins’ first win over their crosstown rival since 2006 and just the second win in the last 13 years.

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